When writing a business letter, the layout of your letter is important, so that it will be easy to read and looks professional. So is your use of an appropriate salutation and closing, your spelling and grammar, and the tone you employ.
Here's information on business letters, including selecting a font, paragraph spacing, formatting, margins, what to include in each paragraph, how to close the letter, and an example of the proper layout for a business letter.
Letter Font and Spacing
- Properly space the layout of the business letters you write, with space between the heading, the greeting, each paragraph, the closing, and your signature.
- Single space your letter and leave a space between each paragraph. When sending typed letters, leave two spaces before and after your written signature.
- Left justify your letter, so that your contact information, the date, the letter, and your signature are all aligned to the left.
- Use a plain font like Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, Calibri, or Verdana. Make sure that the font size you use is large enough that your reader won’t need to reach for their glasses – the standard font size for these fonts is 10 point or 12 point.
If you are submitting your business letter to a very conservative organization, it is best to use the traditional Times New Roman 12 point font. Do not, under any circumstances, use fancy fonts like Comic Sans or handwriting fonts like Lucida on business correspondence.
Business Letter Etiquette and Tone
- Salutation: It is still standard to use the recipient’s title (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., Professor, Judge) before their last names in the salutation of formal business correspondence (Example: “Dear Mr. Smith”). The word “Dear” should always precede the recipient’s name; don’t simply use their name by itself as you might do in casual correspondence. By the same token, avoid beginning business correspondence with openings like “Hello,” “Hi,” or “Good morning” – business letters should always begin with “Dear [recipient’s title and name]” unless you use the salutation “To Whom It May Concern” (in instances when you do not know the name of the recipient).
- Closing: Your closing needs to err on the side of the conservative. Acceptable closings to use include: “Sincerely,” “Sincerely yours,” “Best regards,” “Regards,” “Thank you,” “Thank you for your consideration,” “Respectfully,” and “Very Respectfully” (this, often abbreviated “V/R,” is common in military business correspondence). Do not use casual closings like: “Later,” “Cheers,” “Cordially,” “Thanks!,” “TTYL,” or “Warmly.”
- Word Choice and Grammar: Although your word choice for business letters should not be too stilted, flowery, or ornate, you should also avoid using slang, abbreviations/acronyms, emojis, or text-speak. By no means should you use the sentence fragments that are commonly used when texting. Instead, use complete sentences, watching out for comma splices (where two complete sentences are joined by a comma). Proofread carefully for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes.
- Paper: If you are drafting a formal business letter to be mailed as opposed to an email, the paper you use should be a standard white bond paper of a decent weight – don’t use the sort of colored or flamboyant stationery that might be used in marketing “junk mail.” It’s fine to include a simple business logo at the top of the paper.
Business Letter Layout Example
Your Contact Information
Your City, State Zip Code
Your Phone Number
Your Email Address
Recipient's Contact Information
City, State Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Body of Letter
The first paragraph of your business letter should provide an introduction to why you are writing.
Then, in the following paragraphs provide more information and details about your request.
The final paragraph should reiterate the reason you are writing and thank the reader for reviewing your request.
Handwritten Signature (for a hard copy letter)
Review a Sample Business Letter
This is a business letter example. Download the business letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Review a Sample Business Letter (Text Version)
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
September 1, 2018
321 Metropolis Ave.
New City, NY 12345
Dear Ms. Lee:
I’m writing to you today on behalf of Happyland Helpers. We’re a small organization that helps low-income families who need after-school care for their young children. We offer grants to families and free transportation for their children so that they can attend one of the local after-school daycare centers.
Every year, we hold a fundraising event: the Happyland Carnival at Floyd Rosedale Middle School. I’m hoping you may be interested in donating to our silent auction and raffle.
We’re looking for items such as gift baskets, housewares, toys and other useful items. Cash donations are also appreciated if you prefer. This year, all proceeds will go towards buying the new van that we need to transport the children.
If you’re interested in making a donation, please let me know by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by cell phone (555-555-5555) if you have any questions.